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Advice for Nerds at Dinner Parties

Updated: Sep 1, 2019

It's a bummer to talk earnestly about what you love and seeing someone's eyes glaze over. I can't talk about what I really care about at a dinner party. Stuff like what information really is or the limits of applying general systems theory at the quantum scale or how ethics are flows of information and matter/energy. I'm sitting on something that can change the world, but my neighbors simply don't have the context for it.

If you're like me, it's not bad to take a break from your stuff and learn about what's up with others. It helps to think ahead about what is important to the people who you're meeting up with and to consider what you may have in common.

Lots of topics work with Maui folks: The coqui frog and chicken invasion. Food. The new gender-neutral grammar and what it represents. Shark bites. Food. The homeless problem. Growing anything. CBD oil. Sound as dog and mosquito repellents. Food. The newest Netflix or Amazon series. The latest art or music events. Gossip about politicians or famous people, or, if it’s kind and in good taste, another neighbor. Food.

Avoiding politics is a good idea unless everyone’s obviously on the same page, and even then it can be divisive and depressing. Technology gets mixed reviews, depending on the crowd.

Inevitably talk moves to travel — where everyone has been and where everyone is going. Which for my husband and I, who are travel nerds, is a vast and kind of private subject, and for those who can't go everywhere, it's no fun.

The purpose of dinner conversation is to connect and to entertain and be entertained. To do that, come with a 15-second answer to “What’s up with you?” Then turn the same question on the asker for clues to the start of a real conversation.

I do okay until I have a glass of wine. Then I get excited about the last bit of research and my poor victims politely find a way to duck out.

Then I kick myself. After all, I know my stuff. I don't know what's going on with my friends. I This is an opportunity to get into the world of real people and to be a part of my neighborhood!

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